Fun, Healthy Recipe Ideas for Kids That They Will Love

Fun, Healthy Recipe Ideas for Kids That They Will Love

Fun Healthy Recipe Ideas for Kids That They Will Love

Kids are picky eaters, leave them to their own choice and their daily meals might be in the form of sugar, sugar, sugar, maybe some cheese if you are lucky, and more sugar. Getting them to eat a healthy diet is really important; this is their developing stage, a diet that lacks essential nutrients might have lifelong consequences.

Now as a parent, convincing them to eat their wholesome veggies and the delicious fruits that you love, seems like a herculean task, but more than the famed strength of Hercules, guile is the noun that is required here. When it comes to kids, developing habits is important. You can do as the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s classic novel, Gulliver’s Travels, did with their young ones, not let them taste anything sweet till they are five.

Their ignorance is bliss for you; but if that seems a bit too harsh for your taste, we have a few fun and healthy recipe ideas which will provide yours kids the nutrition they need, while still titillating their taste buds.

• The sugar – Kids love white sugar, which unfortunately has bare minimum nutrition value; it also gives them a rush which can make them a nuisance, or incredibly fun. In either case, replacing refined white sugar with an unrefined sugar has many benefits. A 2009 study showed that replacing white sugar with unrefined sugar means an increase in the daily antioxidant intake equal to the amount found in one serving of nuts of berries. Honey is also a good substitute in some dishes.

• The ice cream and fruits- Who doesn’t love ice cream? It brings out the kid in many adults too; but commercial ice cream has many disadvantages. The preservatives, food coloring, high amount of white sugar and more make them a delicious nightmare for parents. Kids love it and want to eat it all the time. Ditching the commercial ice cream and making your own ice cream at home puts you in control of what goes inside the ice cream.

Fruit based ice creams with unrefined sugar make for a delicious and healthy treat. You can choose 40% fruit pulp with 10% unrefined sugar, and the rest heavy cream to make a delicious ice cream. Experiment with different fruits and combinations, and you will find yourself enjoying it as much as your kid. You can opt for yoghurt instead of cream if you want a low fat frozen dessert.

• The vegetables- The dreaded vegetables, how can you make your kid like them? The task becomes even tougher if you can’t eat them yourself! A little tinkering and addition of some meat and natural cheese can make those vegetables incredibly savory. For the vegetarians and the vegans among us, a Thai style curry with rice can become your most used recipe. An orange or pineapple juice marinade with sautéed or grilled vegetables and some soy sauce is simple and tastes great. Experiment with flavors, a little more salty perhaps, or sweet, or maybe sour, you can be sure you will find a combination which your kids will love.

You can also try whole grain bread sandwiches and pastas with assorted vegetables. Kids enjoy wraps too!

Choose for low fat and less calorie dense sauces, a savory tomato and onion sauce cooked with herbs and different condiments is a good option along with mustard. You can also make a homemade mint sauce. There are endless possibilities when it comes to sauces, addition and changing the quantity of ingredients results in a completely different flavor.

Try these recipe ideas and ensure that your kids gets a healthy meal that is fun to cook and delicious to eat.

The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot

The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot


The Versatile, Nutritious and Delicious Carrot




The humble Carrot is one of the most widely used vegetables in the world. Carrots are very versatile in so many dishes from around the world. The modern day carrot has been bred to be sweet and has a  crunchy texture. Carrots are typically orange, but purple, white, yellow, and red carrots are grown but are not as common. The average American eats about 12 pounds of carrots a year, that is about one cup per week.

It is believed that the carrot was first cultivated in Afghanistan thousands of years ago as a small purple or yellow root with a woody and bitter flavor, nothing of the carrot we know today. Purple, red, yellow and white carrots were cultivated long before the appearance of the now popular orange carrot, which was developed and stabilized by Dutch growers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The majority of carrots today are now cultivated in China.

“Baby Carrots” were introduced in the 1980’s by a farmer who wanted to salvage misformed carrots that were being thrown away because they did not look desirable. Up until then all the broken and misformed carrots were discarded, leaving sometimes as little as 30 percent of their crop suitable for stores. The carrot farmer took an industrial green bean cutter to quickly whittle, peeled, cut, washed and packaged the carrots into the familiar 2-inch baby portions we find in packages today. All Baby Carrots are washed with a water/chlorine solution that is comparable to tap water to eliminate bacteria (including E. coli and Salmonella) that can cause food-borne illnesses. There is controversy concerning the benefits and drawbacks to this water/chlorine solution.  Baby carrot products have become the fastest growing segment of the carrot industry since the early 1990’s and are among the most popular produce items in the market – more than potatoes and celery, according to a 2007 USDA report.

Here are a few ways to enjoy carrots – raw, cooked or baked:     

  • Add grated raw carrots to whole-grain muffin batter.
  • Add grated carrots to omelets, frittatas, pasta sauces, coleslaw and green salads.
  • Combine grated carrots, beets and apples for a nutrient- and antioxidant-rich salad.
  • Make carrot soup by pureeing boiled carrots and potatoes (and cooking water). Add herbs and spices to taste.
  • Add baby carrots or sliced carrots to curry and stir-fry recipes.
  • Juice carrots by making a beta-carotene-rich protein shake by blending leftover cooked carrots (or one half-cup carrot juice), one banana, almond milk and protein powder.
  • Carrots make great snack food to eat with dips.

CookingToday Store offers these great recipes using carrots:

How to Select and Store Carrots

You do not need to peel the organic carrots,  many of the nutrients and fiber are found in the skin. Just use a strong brush to wash the carrots and remove any dirt and debris. Nonorganic root crops, such as carrots, grow in soil and absorb whatever toxins and pesticides are present in the soil. The deeper the color, the more beta-carotene is present in the carrot. When juicing it is best to consume whole, organic carrots so many of the unwanted contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals chemicals do not end up in your body.
Carrots are hardy vegetables that will keep longer than many others if stored properly. The trick to preserving the freshness of carrot roots is to minimize the amount of moisture lost.To do this, remove the green tops and make sure to store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel, which will reduce the amount of condensation that is able to form. They should last fresh for about two weeks. Carrots should also be stored away from apples, pears, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas since it will cause them to become bitter. Carrots will form a white film that is a result of the dehydration of the cut carrots, to revive the carrots soak in a bowl of ice water. Carrots should be firm, smooth, relatively straight and bright in color. Avoid carrots that are excessively cracked or those that are limp or rubbery. When buying carrots do not have their tops attached, look at the stem end and ensure that it is not darkly colored as this is also a sign of age. If the green tops are attached, they should be brightly colored, feathery and not wilted. Since the sugars are concentrated in the carrots’ core, generally those with larger diameters will have a larger core and therefore be sweeter. As carrots age they become limp, these are perfectly good to freeze and save with other vegetables to make your broth base.

  Be careful not to overcook carrots to help them to retain maximum flavor and strong overall nutritional value.

Carrot Nutritional Value & Calories

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one medium carrot or ½ cup of chopped carrots is considered a serving size. One serving size of carrots provides 25 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein, beta-carotene and fiber content plus antioxidant agents and vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese

  • Vitamin A, One medium carrot contains 204 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A. In plant-based foods, this vitamin is produced by your body from the nutritional compound beta-carotene. This vitamin, also known as retinol, is responsible for maintaining the health of your eyes. Vitamin A helps your eyes retain their ability to adjust to changes in light and maintains necessary moisture and mucus levels of your eyes. Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage. Deficiencies of vitamin A cause dryness to the skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin prevents premature wrinkling, acne, dry skin, pigmentation, blemishes, uneven skin tone. Improves Eyesight: Deficiency of vitamin A can cause some difficulty seeing in dim light. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, it is good for improving eyesight and preventing conditions like night blindness from developing as we age.
  •  Vitamins K and C. Vitamin K maintains your blood’s ability to clot. It also contributes to bone strength and kidney health. One medium carrot contains 8 mcg of vitamin K. One medium carrot also contains 6 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, which is associated with a healthy immune system and strong teeth and gums. Vitamin C can also help your body absorb iron from plant foods and can help combat free radicals.  Carrots contain a number of antiseptic and antibacterial abilities that make it ideal for boosting the immune system. Not only that, carrots are a rich source of vitamin C, which stimulates the activity of white blood cells and is one of the most important elements in the human immune system.
  • Carrots contain 2% of calcium needs and 2% of iron needs per serving.
  •  The antioxidant beta-carotene that gives carrots their bright orange color. Beta-carotene is absorbed in the intestine and converted into vitamin A during digestion.
  • Potassium one carrot contains 400 mg of potassium. Potassium is the third-most-abundant mineral in your body. It may help reduce your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and anxiety.  Potassium is a vasodilator and can relax the tension in your blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and circulation, boosting organ function throughout the body and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. The coumarin found in carrots also has been linked to reducing hypertension and protecting your heart health and the health of your muscles, heart and nervous system. 
  • Fiber is one of three types of nutritional carbohydrates, your body’s main nutritional energy source. Fiber promotes bowel regularity. It can also help control your blood sugar levels and contribute to healthy weight management. Carrots contain high amounts of soluble fiber, largely from pectin, which could be the reason they’ve been shown to lower cholesterol.
  • Beta-carotene in carrots has been linked to a reduced risk of several cancers, notably lung, breast cancer and colon cancer.  The average carrot contains about 3 milligrams of beta-carotene.  In one study, researchers found that eating fiber-rich carrots reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 24 percent. Another study shows that women who ate raw carrots were five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not eat carrots.
  • Researchers have just discovered falcarinol which may have the anticancer properties.Falcarinol is a natural pesticide produced by the carrot that protects its roots from fungal diseases. Carrots are one of the only common sources of this compound.
  • Alpha-carotene and bioflavonoids in carrots have been associated with lower risks of cancer, particularly lung cancer. 
  •  Carrots are good for blood sugar regulation. Carotenoids inversely affect insulin resistance and thus lower blood sugar.  They also regulate the amount of insulin and glucose that is being used and metabolized by the body, providing a more even and healthy fluctuation for a diabetic.
  • Carrots clean your teeth and mouth. They scrape off plaque and food particles just like toothbrushes or toothpaste.  Carrots stimulate gums and trigger a lot of saliva, which being alkaline, balances out the acid forming and cavity forming bacteria.  The minerals in carrots prevent tooth damage.

Fun Facts on Carrots:

  • Carrots are the second most popular type of vegetable after potatoes.
  • The biggest carrot recorded is more than 19 pounds and the longest is over 19 feet!
  • There are over 100 species of carrots some big some small and come in a variety colors orange, purple, white, yellow, and red. 
  • English women in the 1600’s often wore carrot leaves in their hats in place of flowers or feathers.
  • The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton,”

Here are a couple good videos for you.


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Perfect Pie or Tart Crust with 10 Fast and Easy Tips

Perfect Pie or Tart Crust with 10 Fast and Easy Tips



Perfect Pie Crust



I am going to share with you some practical basic tips to help give you the skills to make pie or tart dough that is always flaky, delicious and never tough. Pies that could win a county fair blue ribbon and best of all, your friends and family gratitude.

One of the great things about summer is the abundance and variety ripe fruits. There’s an almost endless variety of wonderful pies and tarts, including those filled with fruit, custard, or nuts, meats. You can easily prepare the pies or tarts to either enjoy now or freeze them and enjoy all year long.

Both pies, tarts consist of a rich favorable filling and a  flaky tender pastry shell. Some are filled then baked, while others are baked empty, then filled. Some have a bottom crust, a double crust, a lattice top, a strudel top, or a meringue topping. Tarts are always open-faced and can be baked in different sized and shaped pans, including mini-tartlet pans. Pies are baked in a round, shallow, slope-sided pan, or a deep-dish pan or casserole dish.

 The Best Pie and Tart Crust Tips 

The Crust: The goal of the perfect pie crust is a tender flaky golden crust with a dry bottom. The first step is, to begin with all ingredients and equipment cold, this simple tip will increase the tenderness of the crust.

  • Flour: For a tender crust, choose a low protein wheat flour such as cake flour, pastry flour or unbleached flour. Sift together the flour and dry ingredients.  It is best to have the flour in the refrigerator or freezer for at least an hour or more before mixing all the ingredients.
  • Fats: Don’t blend fat into flour to thoroughly; leave some pea-sized pieces. Chunks of fat create space between the layers of pastry producing a flaky baked crust.
  • Liquids:  Always use ice water with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in your pie dough.This is one more step to help make the crust most tender. Always use the least amount of liquid possible, just enough to make the pie crust hold together.
  • Egg yolk– When a recipe calls for an egg yolk (almost all tart recipes use yolks), it adds more fat, as well as natural lecithin, making the dough pliable and easier to handle. Count the yolk moisture as part of the liquid for the dough. You will see flakes of yellow from the butter and egg yolk.
  1. Mixing

  • When working the pie dough with your hands, use your fingertips instead of the warmer palms of the hand, to pinch the dough to mix it.You can also use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the flour and butter together, add the liquids slowly and use only what is necessary to hold the dough together.
  • When using a food processor refrigerate the bowl and blade about 30 minutes and cut the butter into 1/2 inch squares and freeze. Process the dough no more than 20 or 30 seconds so the butter is not to fine. Add liquid and plus again for 5 or 6 times only. Pour out on the board or parchment paper and proceed.
  • Leave pea size chunks pf butter. Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together. This will help create layers, which translate into flakiness. When the dough starts to come together, transfer it to a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Squeeze it into a ball. If the dough seems dry and chunks break off, spritz with a little ice water. The dough is ready when it just sticks together with small dry cracks, your dough is perfect. Refrigerate it again for 30 minutes.
  • If you’re making a double-crust recipe, divide dough in half, then roll gently into a 4 to 5 inch circle disk, then refrigerate again to get dough cold again, keep wrapped in the parchment or plastic wrap. To avoid ragged dough edges, flatten each piece into a rough disk, then roll like a wheel across a floured work surface, to smooth the edges.
  • *This is the time to freeze your extra dough you plan to use in the future. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a zip lock bag. Slightly thaw out just to the point you can easily roll out.
  1.  Rolling the Dough Out:

  • If the pie crust is soft, chill about 30 minutes more. Soft dough is sticky and you will need to use more flour than when it is colder. If the dough is chilled hard, allow dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly, it should be cold and firm, but not rock hard, this could take 5 to 20 minutes.
  • When ready to roll out the dough, lightly flour the countertop or parchment or other floured surface. If you have a double crust, refrigerate the top while preparing the top. Add more flour as needed.
  • *When you roll out the dough on parchment paper, you will use less flour it is easier to turn, easier transfer to the pie plate, it helps keep the dough cooler, plus it makes cleanup easier. To keep paper from slipping, sprinkle a few drops of water on the countertop before arranging the paper.
  • *A great tip is to draw the circle size you will need for the finished dough on the parchment paper, to be able to easily get an ]perfct finished dough.
  • Roll out the pie dough roll from the center to the edge, rotate the dough a quarter turn after each movement to form an even round crust easing the pressure as you near the edge to keep it from becoming too thin. Continue this process until the dough reaches the diameter needed for your pie pan, about 13 to 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. After every few passes, check that the dough isn’t sticking, both top and bottom. Add flour as needed, excess flour makes a drier, tough crust. Gently lift the paper off once your dough is rolled to the appropriate size, then take a pastry brush and remove any excess flour on both sides. Lift dough and transfer the dough into the pie pan.
  • Patching the pie crust– when you have a hole or tear in the crust just dab a little water over the problem area and cover with a scrap of the dough, problem fixed.
  • Transferring the dough– You can move the dough with the parchment paper and slide the dough into the pie pan, you can fold the dough into quarters and easily lift the dough and place it in the pan or you can gently roll the dough onto your rolling-pin and unroll on top of the pan. The first time may be difficult, after that it is fast and easy.
  • Brush a little water around the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top crust. This helps create a good seal once the two are crimped together.
  1. Pie Plates:

  • Pyrex glass pie plates are a great choice for baking your pies, conducts heat evenly. When using a glass pie plate, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. If you have frozen pie in the Pyrex allow the glass to warm up slightly so it will not break in the oven heat.
  • Dull metal pie plates are better than shiny metal pans for making pies. The shiny metal pans keep the crust from browning properly.
  • Tart pans often times have removable bottoms. They always have straight sides and a stronger crust so that they can stand up alone without a dish for support. Very often they are small individual servings size.
  1. Baking:

  • Once again chill dough for about 30 minutes because pie crusts that are baked right after shaping, are warm enough for the butter to melt to quickly in the oven, causing the edge to sink or even slump over the edge of the pie pan.
  •  Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven. Generally, bake the pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350° and bake until the filling is cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes more. Insert a knife tip to test if the pie is done.
  •  To prevent dark browning of the edges during baking, cover the pie edge with a 2 to 3-inch wide strip of aluminum foil, and mold lightly around the edge of the pie. Bake as directed, removing the aluminum foil 15 minutes before the end of the baking time.
  1. Glazes  Getting a golden color pie crust usually depends on the glaze you brush on top. For any glaze, only apply a thin coating with a pastry brush.
  • Milk or Cream – An even reddish-brown color with a fairly matte finish.
  • Whole Egg, Beaten – plus add a teaspoon of water for intense yellow-golden color with a shiny finish.
  • Egg Yolk, Beaten – plus add a teaspoon of water for deep golden brown color with a highly glossy finish.
  • Egg White – plus add a teaspoon of water for no color, but a very shiny finish. We use egg whites when we’re planning on sprinkling the crust with sugar. It helps the sugar stick and makes the pie look sparkly.
  1. Tips for a Remarkable Finish:

  • Attractive Lattice Top- To make a lattice, roll out dough into a 12-inch square; using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the square into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-wide strips. Lay strips, spaced 1 inch apart, across the filling. Fold back every other strip almost to the edge; then, at the folds, place a new strip perpendicular to the first ones. Return the folded strips so they overlap the new strip. Fold back the other set of strips, stopping about 1 inch away from the first perpendicular strip; arrange another perpendicular strip at the folds. Continue until the lattice has been formed. Trim the overhanging strips so they are flush with the pie plate’s edge. Using a fork, seal the strips to the edge.
  • Honeycomb Pattern- For a honeycomb pattern, cut out circles in the top crust with a small round cutter. Fold the bottom crust over the top, and seal.
  • Braided Edge Make a braided edge by cutting 3 12-inch-long, 1/4-inch-thick strips of dough and braiding them together. Brush the edge of the crust or the bottom of the braids with water; secure. Trim braids equal to the circumference. Glaze for a beautiful finish.
  • Fluted edge– Place the dough in pie plate. Trim the overhang to about 1 inch. Flute the crust by pressing a finger into the rim of the crust against two fingers on the other side of the crust to make an even impression. Repeat every ½ inch about the pie to create a ruffled edge.
  • Cut-Out ShapesUse cookie cutters or cut with your knife to make designs out of spare dough; then attach them with water. When you make the top crust with large decorative cut outs you should freeze, for only a few minutes, the top so that you can more easily move it without it becoming distorted or broken when moving.
  • Always make deep slits in the top crust of fruit pie to allow the steam to escape and prevent the mix from bubbling over. You can make the cuts in a decorative design. These slits can be simple slashes or made with a cookie cutter design heart, flower, leaf and the cut outs can be used as a decoration. For more juicy pies always use the lattice style top or have large openings.
  • Two crust pie– Fold the edges of your dough under.After fitting the dough into the plate, cut off the excess, leaving an overhang of about ¾ to 1 inch (2 cm). Fold this under, using the scraps to patch any thin areas, and crimp. This has the added benefit of making the edges of the pie look very smooth and neat. 
  • Scraps– Save the scraps to make tiny jam pies, turnovers, cinnamon cookies or save in the freezer for the next pie, there is no wasted dough. 
  • Brush the unbaked bottom crust of a pie with a well-beaten egg white before filling with berries and other juicy fruits from making the pie bottoms mushy.
  • To prevent the bottom crust from getting soggy refrigerate the dough (in the pie plate) for 15 minutes before adding the filling. Also, sprinkle bottom crust with a mixture (about 1 tablespoon altogether) of equal parts sugar and flour before adding filling.

 8. Blind-Baking Basics 

  • Blind baking means pre-baking an empty pie crust before adding a filling. This is something you do if the filling itself isn’t going to be cooked, like a fruit tart or chocolate pie or if the filling will cook faster than the crust like with a Quiche. You can also either fully bake the crust or partially bake it so that it has a head start when the full pie goes in the oven.
  • Place the crust in the pie pan then prick the crust bottom with a fork to allow steam to escape evenly while cooking. Then chill the dough.
  • Line the unbaked crust with parchment paper add dried beans or pie weights to help keep its shape, push the weights all the way to the pie edges to help keep the sides from collapsing during baking. You may use foil but some times it sticks, parchment paper never sticks. *These beans will no longer be of much use for making beans because they become so dry. Save them to use for many years in your pies. Without them, the crust will rise and puff on the bottom or slide down the sides under the weight of the crimped edge.
  • Moisture-proof the crust by brushing it with a bit of egg white two or three minutes after it comes out of the oven.
  •  Bake the pie crust in a 425° oven until the edges are brown and golden. Allow 30-40 minutes for full baking or 25-35 minutes for partial baking or until the edge just begins to color. Remove pie weights halfway through cooking so the steam can escape and the bottom can fully cook. 

9. Baked Pies

  • Cool baked pies on a wire rack set on the counter. The rack allows air to circulate under the pie, preventing it from becoming soggy from the steam remaining it in. 
  • Finished Pie: Pie dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Frozen, up to 3 months.
  • Be sure to refrigerate finished pies containing eggs (pumpkin, custard and cream pies). Fruit pies store them loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For Meringues cover with a large bowl high enough not to touch the pie. You cannot wrap them because they will stick to the wrapper and will weep or they become soggy.
  1. Tips for freezing:

  •  Discs of dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then in a ziplock bag can be stored in the freezer for months, and defrosted in the refrigerator overnight before they are rolled out. Rolled out crusts can be put into pie pans, frozen, and baked straight from the freezer when they are needed. They can also be rolled out and gently folded into quarters, frozen and used as desired. An unbaked crust will keep for 2 months in the freezer; a baked crust will keep for 4 months.
  • A frozen crust shrinks less than a freshly rolled crust when blind baked.
  • To thaw a baked pie crust, unwrap and let stand at room temperature, or heat in the oven at 350°F for about 6 minutes.
  • Don’t thaw unbaked crusts; bake them right out of the freezer.
  • Frozen Fruit pies and Tarts freeze well. Prepare the fruit pies according to your recipe, freeze immediately. Do not forget to label the frozen filings with the what it is and the date so that later you know which to use first.
  • To freeze an unbaked pie, wrap pie tightly or place in a plastic freezer bag (as you would a baked pie). Don’t cut slits in the top crust. Unbaked fruit pies will keep in the freezer up to 3 months. When you’re ready to bake, unwrap and carefully cut slits in the still-frozen top crust. Do not thaw first.
  • I like to place the finished filling (not in a crust) in a zip lock bag then place in a pie dish and freeze. Once frozen you take the frozen mixture out of the pan and easily stack many frozen filling.
  • When you remove the pan place the frozen fruit in a second bag to prevent freezer burn. Just place the frozen fruit in your fresh pie crust and continue as before.
  • When you want to bake your complete frozen pie, place in a pie crust then transfer it straight from the freezer to a hot oven. By not defrosting them first, you are protecting them against sogginess because the crust starts to bake and firm up before the fruit begins to give off juices.
  • When you use frozen fruit with a fresh dough bake or with the entire pie is frozen bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and bake 30 to 45 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slit. Protect the crust with foil or pie guard because the frozen pie will be baking a little longer and the edges will get over dark.
  • **Do not forget that a frozen Pyrex may crack when it hits the high heat so allow it to thaw slightly before baking.
  • Freeze your pie uncovered for several hours, then placing them in the freezer bags. 
  • If you want to freeze a baked pie, wrap it in a double layer of foil before placing it in the freezer. When you want to serve the pie, unwrap and thaw it at room temperature for about 3 hours. Then bake the pie at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes to give it a fresh, crisp flavor.
  • How to freeze custard pies filling and the pie shell. The best way to freeze custard style pies, for example, pumpkin, or chocolate, and other custard style pies, prepare the mixture as normal, then place custard mixture in a clean, airtight container and put it in the coldest part of your freezer. If allowed to sit even overnight in the refrigerator, the pumpkin can start to ferment, thickening the custard and eventually giving it a sour flavor.
  • Put the custard and crust together at the last moment. The day before you are planning to bake the pie, pull it from the freezer; allow to thaw in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. The next day, blind bake the pie shell and then add the filling and finish baking.

Pie Crust Recipe – How to Make Flaky Butter Pie Crust Presented by Allrecipes

Please post a comment if you have any good pastry crust tips or suggestions to share. Also when you like or share my site it helps me allot. Enjoy!

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A Basic Guide for Cooking with Fresh and Dried Chile Peppers

A Basic Guide for Cooking with Fresh and Dried Chile Peppers

Chile Peppers




Chile Peppers add a little spice to life. Almost every country in the world today enjoys the flavors and benefits of this humble plant. The name is spelled differently in many regions, The term chili in most of the world refers exclusively to the smaller, hot types of capsicum.

The chili pepper is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, the same family as the potato. Chile peppers are thought to have originated in South America. Until the arrival of Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the New World, peppers grew only in Latin America, but they now cultivated all over the world for centuries, resulting in a wide variety of species with different colors, shapes, flavors, and, of course, spiciness. The mildest and very popular is the bell pepper often referred to red bell, green bell, used in salads, stir fries or stuffed.

  • Poblano 

    Chile Peppers


    A very popular grilling pepper that’s ideal for stuffing to make Chiles Rellenos with a kick of heat. On the heat scale, they are a 2 to 3. They are big, about 4 to 6 inches long and are usually sold fresh, while they are younger and dark green. As they become red, this mature stage is when they are usually dried (and in their dried form they are called ancho chiles).  Poblanos dried become Ancho or Mulato chilies.



    Ancho or Mulato Chilies 

    Chile Peppers


    Ancho Chile means “wide chile” in Spanish, nearly black pepper, made from ripe poblano peppers. They have a high yield of flesh to skin.  Anchos are mild with a rich, dark cherry/raisin sweetness.  Ancho chiles are sometimes labeled “pasilla chiles,” but they are much wider at the stem than true pasillas.


    Chile Peppers

    This is a Mexican variety that matures from dark olive green to dark chocolate brown. The pasilla is six- to 12-inch and on the spiciness scale they are about a 2 to 3.. It’s a versatile pepper that’s good for sauces, roasting, and grilling when fresh. Pasilla chilies are medium hot but not so much that they are scary. Dried pasillas and are common in salsas (sauces) recipes; Pasillas (also known as chiles negros) are available both whole and powdered.

    Pisillas or Chiles Negros

    Chiles Negros, also called Chile Pisilla- This chili is characterized by its deep red flesh It has a mild flavor and only a small amount of heat. They are sometimes used to make the salsa. Ancho, Pasilla and Guajillo make up the “holy trinity” widely used in mole and enchilada sauces. These long, tapered chiles sport black, wrinkled skins and lend a subtle, prune-like flavor with a whisper of licorice to sauces. Complex and quite spicy, the dark flesh of these “chile negros” yields a mahogany brown puree that is often blended with cream.


  • Chili Arbol

    The Chile de árbol (Spanish for tree chili) is a small and potent Mexican chili pepper also known as bird’s beak chile and rat’s tail chile. Chile De Arbol Peppers are named in reference to the woody stems attached to the pod.  These chilies are about 2 to 3 inches long. Their heat index is between about 7-8 on a 1-10 scale. The peppers start out green and turn a bright red color as they mature. Chile de árbol peppers can be found fresh, dried, or powdered. These beautiful little red chiles are thought to be derived from the cayenne pepper. As dried chiles, they are often used to decorate wreaths because they do not lose their red color after dehydration. Excellent in salsas.

    Fresh Anaheim Chili


    The Anaheim is big, about 5 to 6 inches long, and a mild chile that’s good for stuffing.  Anaheims are good roasted, cut into strips, and thrown into a salad; stuffed with meat and grilled; used in salsa verde, or added to cheese enchiladas. Mildly spicy about a 3 on the spiciness level.

     Anaheim Dried Chili

    Chile Peppers


    Anaheim, are also known as New Mexican or California chile pepper pods have a marvelous sweet, pungent, earthy flavor which you might find quite addicting.   They and a shiny smooth skin, with a flavor that is very mild. They are usually blended with more interesting chilies when making sauces. It is possible to derive three distinct flavors from one chile pod: the seeds alone, the flesh alone, or the whole pod. Each produces different levels of flavor and heat.

    Cayenne Pepper


    This bright red pepper, about 2 to 6 inches long and is usually consumed in its dried, powdered form, known as cayenne pepper. When ripe and fresh, cayenne chilies are long, skinny, and very hot, spiciness range of 4 to 5.

Guajillo Chili


    • Guajillo chilies have long, shiny, tapered pods with tough cranberry-red skins. They boast a moderately spicy, tangy flavor with a hint of citrus. Because the skins are tough, be prepared to soak the chilies a bit longer to make them pliable, and be sure to strain the sauce once blended.


Jalapeño Pepper

Chile Peppers

The jalapeno is used especially in Mexican cooking and has become one of the most popular chilies around the world at this time. The jalapeño is a medium-sized chili pepper a mature jalapeño fruit is 2 to 3 inches long with a round, firm, smooth flesh of 1–1.5 in wide.  The jalapeno is harvested both green and red, the jalapeño is spicy. When dried and smoked, it’s called a chipotle chile.

Jalapeño chilies progressively get hotter the older they get, eventually turning bright red. As they age, they develop white lines and flecks, like stretch marks running in the direction of the length of the pepper. The smoother the pepper, the younger, and milder it is. The more white lines or striations, the older and hotter the chile may be. Red jalapeños can be very hot. If you want the mildest jalapeno pick the chilies without any striations. If you want heat, find a red or green one with plenty of white stretch marks.


Chipotle Pepper

    • Chipotles are made by smoking and drying jalapenos. They are often sold canned in tomato sauce as “chipotles in adobo”. They have a dusty, tan appearance and a woodsy, smoky flavor with about a 3 on the temperature scale. They are wonderful in sauces, sour cream and even in mayonnaise for sandwiches. Try them one at a  time until you find your spiciness level.


Serrano Chili

Chile Peppers


Spicier than the jalapeño, and more flavorful, the serrano is a small Mexican pepper, about 1 to 3 inches long and thinner than the jalapeno, with thick, juicy walls, and is widely available and versatile. It is about a 3 on the spiciness level. It is most commonly sold in its green stage and like the jalapeno, it turns red and then yellow as it ages. You can also find serranos canned pickled or dried.


Habanero Pepper

Chile Peppers Habaneros add a lot of heat to cooking, on the spiciness scale they rate about a 5. Be careful with them or you will destroy your dish. You’ll find different colors, ranging from red to white-yellow and even brown, but orange is the most common, they are usually 2 to 3 inches long. Great for salsa, hot sauces, or a fiery jerk chicken.


Bell Pepper


The most common sweet pepper, bells are red, green, and yellow, but there are also purple, brown, and orange varieties, 3 to 6 inches in size. They are a crunchy, juicy pepper that is great for eating raw on salads, sautéing, they have next to no heat to the bite. They have a large cavity that is ideal for stuffing. On the heat scale, they are about a 1, very little.


Hot Cherry Pepper


These vary in size from 1 to 2 inches and shape and are very hot. They are usually round though sometimes more of a triangular shape. Cherry peppers can also be sweet and are about a 3-4 on the spiciness range. They’re most often used in pickling and stuffing.


Hungarian Pimento

This is a type of pimento (or pimiento) pepper, which is what you often find stuffed in green olives. It is a large 4 to 6 inches long, sweet red pepper, similar to a bell but with an extra-thick, juicy wall. The skin comes off easily, so this is an ideal pepper for roasting. It’s also great to eat raw with dip, it is only about a 1 on the spiciness range.

Chile Peppers


  • If you want the flavor without the mouth-scorching fire, remove the seeds and interior ribs from a chile before cooking it.
  • When you purchase chilies in a can they are much milder than the fresh version.
  • When cooking with chilies for a group you are not sure what spiciness level they can handle, soak chilies in salt and vinegar 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how hot they are. Rinse and dry the fill as before.
  • Most green peppers are less spicy than the darker and redder they get.
  • It’s also a good idea to have dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, on hand—they contain casein, which helps neutralize capsaicin, the chemical that gives chilies their heat. A teaspoon of sugar on your tongue also helps so does eating rice, pasta or bread.
  • Always protect your skin by wearing gloves when handling hot peppers in your skin is sensitive. Always wash your hands thoroughly after working with chilies otherwise, you may touch your eyes or other body parts, and will feel a burn for a while.
  •  To prevent making an overly spicy dish, be sure to add just a little bit of chili at a time and taste as you go. If using hot peppers, taste a little bit first to get a sense for how hot it is.
  • If you do make something that is too spicy, try one of the following, before giving up on your dish:
    • Dairy combats heat whether it is milk, sour cream, or yogurt, use as much of it as you can until the spice has calmed down. Stir in a tablespoon at a time of yogurt, sour cream, milk, coconut milk (a great nondairy alternative) and/or a mild cheese like Parmesan to counteract overly hot flavors.
    • Some people swear nut butter are able to cut through the excess heat of a dish. If it’s appropriate for the dish, try stirring in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, etc.
    • Acid can cut through the heat try vinegar, lemon juice, and lime juice.
    • A spoonful of sugar can also go a long way in neutralizing the spice. Sugar may be used best in combination with an acid, like lemon juice.
    • Soak roasted chilies first in a teaspoon of vinegar and a dash of salt with enough water to cover them, soak them for 20 to 60 minutes or more depending on the heat level of the chili.

Health Benefits of Chilies

  • Chilies contain health benefiting an alkaloid compound in them, capsaicin, which gives them strong spicy pungent character. Early laboratory studies on experimental mammals suggest that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-diabetic properties. It also found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
  • Fresh chili peppers, red and green, are rich source of vitamin-C. 100 g fresh chilies provide about 143.7 µg or about 240% of RDA. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant. It is required for the collagen synthesis inside the human body. Collagen is one of the main structural protein required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones.
  • They are also good in other antioxidants such as vitamin-A, and flavonoids like ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, diseases conditions.
  • Chilies carry a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • Chilies are also good in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that human body requires them from external sources to replenish.
  • Some of my health information is from:


How to Roast Fresh Chili Peppers

  1. Place the chilies over a stove flame, under the broiler or on a grill and roast until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes. Avoid completely blackening the chiles; you’re looking for them to be about 60% to 70% charred.
  2. Turn them over and roast the other side: Using tongs, flip the chiles over and roast on all sides until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Steam the peppers to loosen the peel: Remove the chilies from the heat and place them in a paper bag, food-safe plastic bag, or heat-safe bowl. Close the bag or cover the bowl, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The steam will help loosen the peel from the chiles.







When buying dry chilies, look for ones that are still pliable and leathery. If they feel hard or crack when you bend them inside their packaging, they’re too old and have lost much of their flavor. If you are not planning on using your chilies right away, or if you are planning on buying them in bulk, the best way to store them is in an air-tight zipper-lock bag inside the freezer or cool dark location. They become moldy if you do not wrap them well.

How To Prepare Dry Chilies 

  • First clean To clean a long, straight chili like a Guajillo, start by snipping off the stem with some clean kitchen shears into a bowl. Next, make a slit along one edge. Open up the chili and use your fingers to scrape out the seeds and any ribs. For wrinkled chilies where the stem ends up inverted, start by cutting the chili in half, making sure to cut below where the internal portion of the stem ends up. Scrape the seeds and ribs out of the bottom half. Next, turn the top half inside out so that the inner portion of the stem is exposed. Cut the stem off from the inside. You should end up with a clean, ring-shaped piece of chili, the stem falling neatly into the bowl below.
  • Second Toast the Chili Toasting chilies opens the cells and oils which increase the flavor and complexity. Use a skillet with a heavy bottom and over medium heat toast the chili. It will slowly puff up when done. Watch the chilies because they will burn quickly.
  • Grind the Chilies Once those chilies are toasted, place them into a blender or spice grinder to make your own chili powder.
  • Soften the Chilies Place the toasted chilies in a small bowl of boiling water and let them sit for about 15 to 20 minutes to soften. Then place them in the blender and puree. Proceed with your recipe for salsa or various sauces. *Soften the dried chili also if you are going to fill it.


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Cookie Decorating

Cookie Decorating

 Cooking Decorating


These are some of the best and easiest Cookie Decorating ideas for your cookies.  I hope you enjoy trying them.


Cookie Decorating

Cookie decorating can be as simple or as complex as you may like.
Course Dessert, Snack
Author Laurie


Cookie Glaze

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp salt


  • sugar
  • 2 or 3 drops food coloring your favorite color


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2-3 drops food color your favorite color

Royal Icing or Piped Frosting:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 cups Confectioners' sugar

Confectioner Sugar Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp water
  • 2-3 drops food color


Cookie Glaze

  1. In a small bowl beat the egg whites with the salt until they are foamy. Brush the glaze lightly on cookies before baking for a glossy finish. The glaze holds sugar, fruits, and nuts in place. Makes enough glaze for about 60 2 inch cookies.

Colored Sugars

  1. Divide the sugar among 4 small bowls and stir each food coloring into a separate bowl. Let the sugars dry and keep them covered. Decorate glazed cookies with the colored sugars. Makes enough decorating sugar for about 60 2 inch cookies. You can also find coarse sugar, found in the store sometimes in the cake section, this adds the most sparkle to the cookie.


  1. In a bowl beat the egg yolks lightly with 1 t water. Divide the mixture among 4 small bowls, and stir each food coloring into a separate bowl. Decorate baked cookies with the "paints" using a fine tipped brush and put them in a preheated hot oven, 400 degrees for 1 minute. Makes enough paint for about 60 2 inch cookies.

Royal Icing or Piped Frosting:

  1. In a large bowl mix at high speed the egg whites until foamy. Reduce speed and add in sugar until blended then beat on high speed until thick and shiny about 2 minutes. Beat in 1 Tbsp of water is the icing is to thick. Color as desired. Makes 2 cups

Confectioner Sugar Glaze

  1. Sift the sugar add water a spoon at a tine. Mix well until smooth. Color with food colors. Use quickly. Place a cookie face down on a fork or with prongs and dip cookie into Glaze so that the face is covered. Lift up gently with your figures and allow excess to drip off. Place where it can dry.Decorate further with the other decorations.

Recipe Notes


Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner

Thanksgiving Holiday Dinner

Of all the  holidays I love Thanksgiving the best! The name of the holiday conveys what the day is supposed to be about.  The idea of having a time to reflect on the simple pleasures of life and blessings of life, to be thankful for what you have, it is a fantastic thing for everyone . It is a good time to reconnect the people who make a difference in our lives.   A gathering and special meal to yourself and to share.  It is a time of memories and family traditions. I remember as a child my Thanksgivings at my grandparents house, the fun, the love, the food…

A time to share your lives gifts and losses over the year, sharing it the greatest way of thankfulness. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Making a Thanksgiving Feast alone can be a little daunting.  It is great to share the work and assign a dish to another person to bring or make it a potluck. If this is your first time of a big feast remember this quote from one of my favorite chefs…

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child

Menu Ideas for your Traditional Thanksgiving dinner. All the recipes are here in Cooking Today.

Creamy Carrot Leek and Ginger Soup

Pear, Spinach and Toasted Pecan Dinner Salad

          Roast Turkey with Apple Chutney Stuffing and Gravy

Vegetable Strudel  With Red Bell Pepper Sauce (main dish for the vegetarian)

Cranberry Orange Relish

Homemade Cranberry Jelly

Mashed  Potatoes

Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Root Vegetables with Walnut Pesto

Roasted Beets with Beet Green

Green Beans with Almonds

Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie

Apple Pie

Menu planning  guidelines for Thanksgiving basics, showing the amount you’ll need to buy whether you’re entertaining eight or 24 or various numbers in between.

Dish 8 servings 10 Servings 12 Servings 16 Servings 20 Servings 24 Servings
Turkey 8 pounds 10 pounds 12 pounds 16 pounds 20 pounds 24 pounds
Stuffing 4 cups 5 cups 6 cups 8 cups 10 cups 12 pounds
Cranberry Relish 1 recipes 2  recipes 2  recipes 4  recipes 5  recipes 6  recipes
Cranberry Jelly 1  recipes 2  recipes 2  recipes 4  recipes 5  recipes 6  recipes
Mashed potatoes 3 pounds 3.5  pounds 4.5  pounds 6  pounds 7.5  pounds 9  pounds
Sweet Potatoes 4 potatoes 5 potatoes 6 potatoes 8 potatoes 12 potatoes 4 potatoes
 Vegetables Strudel  1 recipe  1 recipe  1 .5 recipe  1.5 recipe  2 recipe   recipe
Green Beans 2  pounds 2.5  pounds 3  pounds 4  pounds 5  pounds 6  pounds
Salad  1.5  2  2.5  3  3.5  4
Dinner Rolls 12 24 36 48 60 72
Pumpkin Pie 1 2 3 3 4 4
Apple Tart 1 2 3 3 4 4


Turkey-1 week ahead order the turkey, if it is frozen, place in the refrigerator 4 days in advance to thaw out. Place in an extra plastic bag to make sure juices do not leak out.

Stuffing- You can make the day ahead of time. Never stuff the turkey though the day ahead. It should be stuffed the day it goes in the oven or you can bake it is a casserole dish.

Relishes- These can be made 1 to 3 days in advance, just keep them covered in the refrigerator.

Potatoes They can be made a had ahead but when it is time to reheat add the warmed milk and butter.

Sweet potatoes They can be prepared a day ahead and finished at the end.

Green beans- Can be cleaned and prepped the day ahead and cooked at the end.

Vegetable Strudel- Can be prepared a day head and baked the day it is served.

Dinner rolls- Can be made a week ahead and frozen. Reheat when ready to serve.

Pies- Pies can be made several weeks ahead and frozen. Thaw a day ahead of time.




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